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The ruins of Strata Florida Abbey are in a beautiful location in meadows, surrounded by hills, near the River Teifi. Strata Florida (Welsh Ystrad Fflur) is Latin for ‘Vale of Flowers’. It was founded in the 12th century by Normans, but developed under the patronage of Rhys ap Gruffydd, The Lord Rhys, the ruler of the kingdom of Deheubarth. So Strata Florida became a focal point for Welsh culture and a place of pilgrimage. Generations of Welsh princes are buried there and the 14th century poet Dafydd ap Gwilym is said to be buried under a yew in the adjoining churchyard of St Mary’s parish church. St Mary’s stands on what was abbey land and is believed to have been built using stones from the abbey ruins.
Though Strata Abbey, rightly, has a place in Welsh hearts – it has been called ‘the Westminster Abbey of Wales’ – very little of the medieval building remains to be seen. The most significant piece of masonry is the carved west doorway of the abbey church. There are also some impressive floor tiles in what were transept chapels. As of 2021, archaeological exploration was underway at the neighbouring 17th century Mynachlog Fawr Farmstead – whose buildings almost certainly utilised stonework from the old abbey. This may reveal more about the astonishing complex that once stood there. There is a visitor centre and also a small museum about the family that lived in the farm.
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